It was one of the country’s largest natural disaster drills and KCATA played a pivotal role.
The KCATA contributed buses, drivers and transportation supervisors to help evacuate people from the fallout of a mock earthquake along the New Madrid fault line in eastern Missouri.
The eight-state preparedness drill was dubbed the Show Me Mass Care Exercise. It was intended to mimic the consequences of powerful earthquakes in 1811 and 1812 that shook southeast Missouri so violently that it caused the Mississippi River to flow backward.
The scenario played out on Aug. 24 involved a massive earthquake damaging large swaths of eastern Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois. The quake severely damaged St. Louis, sending as many as 750,000 people westward to Kansas City for refuge.
Part of the exercise was staged in Jackson County where evacuation shelters were set up in Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs and Independence. Sites also were set up in Independence and Lee’s Summit for “evacuees” to pick up supplies such as food and water.
The drill, hosted by the state of Missouri, was the largest natural disaster outdoor exercise held in the history of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The KCATA lent four buses and operators to the disaster drill. The buses and the drivers — Brenda Perkins, Richard Revels, James Harris and Andre Johnson — played a critical role in the exercise, said Michael Curry, Jackson County’s emergency preparedness director.
Also helping out with the drill were KCATA transportation staffers B.J. Garcia, Raed Kandah and Johnny Moore.
“The buses were impressive, the drivers were incredible, and the exercise excelled because we were able to transport ‘evacuees’ from station to station following real-life evacuation situations,” Curry said.
The KCATA’s participation in the drill demonstrates the authority’s commitment to helping the region, said Robbie Makinen, the agency’s president and chief executive.
“The KCATA is more than just about transit. It’s about public service,” Makinen said. “We are dedicated to helping our community whether it is disaster preparedness, taking kids to the park or helping with the distribution of healthy food. Our part in this disaster exercise was just one more way we could help make our region a better place for everyone.”